The half-way girl

The trend for me these days is to do a project twice, and stall out half-way through the second…

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I stitched one set of pillowcases in less than a week. So excited, so obsessive with the work.

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I began the next set of pillowcases strong, but finishing the first of two took nearly as long as both the originals. And the second? Still not done.

Something shiny and bright caught my attention. I switched gears and picked up needles.

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Oh, new Noro yarn and a pretty wristlet pattern, my new exiting. As usual the first pair flew off the sticks in two days. Excitement!

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But, as my trend goes that second pair only warms one wrist. The thrill of the new wrist warmers wained… Now, I want to make socks!

It seems I stall out somewhere around the third object…so I might get one pair of socks made (yay, warm feet!) and have another rolling around here for days and days. Maybe months and months! Making friends with a lonely pillowcase, and a lonely wristlet.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget I’ve got a set of four tote bags on my to-do list also. Two done, one laid out…

And there’s that block of the month quilt that should’ve been finished last year? I think. ..Half-way seems like a good place to be for me I guess. Almost. Not quite. Nearly there. Close to being.

These objects wait for my distraction to come full circle. It always does. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but eventually. Because as much as I am a half-way stall kind of girl, I’m also a finisher. I really do love that feeling; the very last stitch. It’s bittersweet and beautiful. It’s a wrap up and a new beginning. I really, really love it. It’s why binding a quilt is my favorite part of the process. Why I weave in ends right away instead of the after-blocking most people recommend.

So, while I languish in my half-way place right now I’m dreaming of those last stitches and finished objects. I’ll eventually have a bunch of them…and that’s the most exciting thing of all!

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Oh, Hats! {Inspired by She Makes Hats}

Absolutely addicting little projects those hats. The desire to make one has turned into…um, a dozen or so now.

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My impulse buying single skeins has actually paid off in this hat knitting frenzy. Most times it’s possible for me to get two hats out of one skein, and sometimes more if I combine leftovers for striping.

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I’m not really awesome at hat making yet, but it’s been lots of fun learning. I get so much inspiration from the lovely Robyn ~ She Makes Hats over on Instagram. She’s got an amazing hat making goal – 10,000 hats for 10,000 people! – can you imagine?! Now that’s what I call a hat addiction!

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Robyn doesn’t just make hats to make them though, she’s got giving on her mind in a big big way. She donates many of her hats to hospitals, schools, and veterans. She even started the Nebraska Hats For Hope Initiative so other people could join her in making hats for charity too. That’s where many of my hats are headed. I’m not very good at sizing yet, luckily she donates to newborns and sailors and everyone in between.

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Don’t worry, even if you aren’t a hat maker yourself you can still help Robyn reach her 10,000 hats goal. She’s got an Etsy shop, where for every hat purchased she makes a newborn hat to donate. It’s a buy one, give one, good thing going on over there!

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So, she makes hats, she gives hats, she sells hats…wait, there’s more! Robyn also writes hat patterns! Wha?? Yep. I guess it’s only natural for a prolific hat maker to be a pattern writer. I’ve knit both her Tyson and Hadley hats, they were a joy. Her patterns are so well written even a newbie like me gets great results. Actually, I’m a little addicted to the Hadley hat, I’ve knit it several times already! That pattern is always in my bag, even if I’m not knitting it at the moment I might be tomorrow.

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You can find out lots more about Robyn, her patterns, her making, and giving all over on her blog. Check it out, she’ll inspire you too!

Stitches with Grace

There’s been all kinds of stitches happening around here this week. Knit stitches like this hat…

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And this in progress one too…

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I also listed a couple handknits over at the shop today. I like shop variety as much as I like crafty variety. How about you?

One of the items in the shop is this scarf…

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..of which I’m pretty proud. I didn’t follow a pattern, just made it up as I went along. It’s the first knit anything I’ve dove that with. Everything else if it wasn’t directly from a pattern it was one I’d memorized enough to change. It feels good to make something wholly your own, you know? Even something as simple as a scarf.

The other kind of stitches showing up big time around here are embroidery stitches.

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I came across some pillowcases in my stash with embroidery patterns printed on them. I can’t remember if I bought them or got them as a gift, but I finally decided to stitch them.

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I was obsessed with them for four days! Once I got going and I was completing those little boxes I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed it so much, and think they’ll be well received as gifts, that I ordered another set to stitch for another gift.

I am pretty excited to mark the first gift -It’s even wrapped!- off my Handmade Holiday list this year. I have lots of other things in the works but this one is complete, and oh gosh that feels good!

When you like to give handmade gifts you gotta start early! I run out of time often and then it’s a last minute scramble for gift cards. Which, while I’m sure the people who get them don’t mind, makes me sad. I like to give gifts with thought, time, and effort behind them. Gift cards are awesome when needed but aren’t my first choice.

So, I’m stitching towards that big Christmas deadline again. I have a love/hate relationship with having a timeline. I love love making gifts and having a big happy reason for gifts-for-everyone! is awesome. I hate that I sometimes make my self crazy with have-to-somethings and not-good-enoughs.

Am I the only one that does that? Surely not. I’m trying to gift myself a little grace this year and not do that. We’ll see how that works out! Wish me luck! If you’d like to join me in giving yourself grace too I wholeheartedly wish you luck as well! Maybe we can remind each other when the negatives creep in. Our first gift priority this year is grace; for ourselves and everyone else. After all, everyone can use a little grace, don’t you think?

Just like Grandma’s

Or at least very close!

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These were originally intended to be a Christmas gift for my brother, but in my procrastination they sort of ended up as a Valentine’s gift instead. Good thing he didn’t seem to mind.

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I don’t have the original pattern my grandmother used when we were kids. I was pretty young, but I think she sent slippers for Christmas. I don’t remember them as specifically as my brother does, but I remember they had this basic shape.

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The slipper pattern from Knitting Pretty was really easy to follow. It called for a bulky yarn so I used the thinner yarn I’d picked out held double. It resulted in a super squishy heavier slipper which might be just right for cold snowy nights. After all, Grandma’s slippers were meant for Florida winters not Colorado ones.

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I knit these up in just a couple of days, over the weekend really. And I’ve got at least one more pair planned; can’t let my guy’s toes get cold! Maybe with a little digging I’ll be able to find that original pattern my grandma used and carry on her proud tradition. That is, of course, depending on if she used a pattern. After knitting so many pairs -hundreds, maybe?- perhaps she didn’t use a particular pattern. How she always got the size just right from so far away I’ve no idea. I guess that’s just one of those great things about grandmas.

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Cowl Craze

Yep, I’ve added another one to the now growing collection!

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The pattern for this royal blue beauty is called Burnished Leaves. I found it, like so many of my knitting patterns lately, over on Ravelry.

I know blue is an odd choice for a leaf like design but I think it came out pretty sweet anyway. I’ve been using the Everyday soft worsted from the Deborah Norville collection at Joann’s for these cowls I’ve been knitting. Mostly because they are soft, squishy and inexpensive. So, if I screwed up my first attempts and ruined things I wouldn’t be completely heart broken, but if they succeeded they’d still be fun to wear. So far success!

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Maggie is such a good supervisor! 🙂

This pattern was hard to get in my head. It’s a 16 row repeat and even though the even rows are all just knit I still found it hard at first not to check the pattern every few stitches. That being said; it’s a pretty simple pattern and one I’d definitely knit again. I love the design.

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One thing I didn’t do is swatch this first to get the right gauge. (Because I’m lazy about stuff like that.) So, my cowl came out a little bit big. It’s totally cozy and wearable, and someone who wants a cowl to not hug too tight around their neck will love it. The leaf pattern creates a lovely wave that collapses easily into its self and creates a perfect drape. However, I do think it would hug the neck a little better if it were just a tiny bit smaller. Something to consider for the next one!

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All this cowl knitting is making me so much more comfortable with knitting in the round that I’m giving lots of serious thought to casting on for my first sweater. I haven’t settled on a pattern yet; I’m still weighting the ease of pattern versus the boredom factor and style. So, if you’ve got any suggestions for a first sweater pattern I’d love to hear them!

For the moment I’ve still got a skein of red yarn to turn into (oh yes) another cowl! Who’s up for a cowl covered Christmas 2013? That seems to be the shape of things around here judging by January. What does your January say about your year to come?

Atomic in Aubergine

Because I’m crazy and obsessive once I get a pattern in my head. (This one is called Atomic.)

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Because knitting is so satisfying when you get into the rhythm.

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Because I went and bought two more skeins of yarn (1 red, 1 blue) to do it all over again with yet another Ravelry pattern. Any suggestions?

Cowls may be my new favorite thing. Who needs to bother to wrap a scarf, just slip a cozy cowl on!
What’s your new favorite thing?

Aubergine Honey

Oh, for the love of honey…
The Honey Cowl is fantastic!

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If you’re a knitter, crocheter, felter, spinner, fiber artist of any kind and you aren’t on Ravelry you should really really really consider going over and joining up. It’s a great community of creative people and an awesome resource for patterns and yarn advice.

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I’ve had the Honey Cowl pattern in my favorites for a while now. To be honest I put it off because I’ve never knit in-the-round before and was a little intimidated. I tried once with double pointed needles and sock yarn, it was not pretty or fun. So, I’ve admired the in-the-round patterns from a safe distance.

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Then this week I had to make a trip to Joann’s, and I had to walk out with my listed items and two skeins of Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted in Aubergine. Had to.

While I was hunting for a plain ol’ knit flat scarf pattern – two of which I knit test sections of to see if I liked them – I ran across the Honey Cowl pattern. I just happened to have one set of size eight connected needles for knitting in the round. Maybe it was all meant to be, this cowl and I.

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I cast on just a few days ago, and held my breath while I joined the ends and began my first round. As you can see it worked out quite well. Once I got the pattern in my head I was a little obsessed with watching it grow. And as the cowl grew I decided I could get a good sized cowl from just one skein. It’s a couple inches shorter than the eleven inches the pattern called for, but hey, I’ve got a short neck! It works just great. The pattern is really lovely and squishy and cozy. I totally recommend it!

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After I finished the Honey Cowl I immediately hunted up another cowl pattern and cast on that second skein. This time the pattern is called Atomic, it’s a great woven looking reversible pattern with ribbed edging. I accidentally got this one twisted when I joined it so I did have to unknit a row when I realized that, but now I’m on a roll with the ribbed edge and looking forward to getting to the main body pattern. I’m also excited because now knitting my first sweater seems a little less daunting thanks to my new in-the-round skill.

Have you learned a new yarn-y skill recently? What pretty project is on your needles/hook right now?

Contentment with Needles

I’m compelled.
Feeling a little obsessed.
I’ve knit five dish cloths in the last two days and am casting on yet another. They’re just so quick and easy and fulfilling in a really basic way for me. I can watch the stack grow and feel accomplished. I can fill the drawer at The Artist Place and feel satisfied.

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I get into a rhythm and watch the design emerge. It feels good to see the percentage of my finished project climb quickly and be casting off only a few hours after after I’ve cast on. I really am an impatient girl!

There are a couple things I’m especially enjoying right now on the midst of this knitting flurry…

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Like this Bernat Holiday yarn. It’s one of the big guys, nearly ten ounces, and seems to last forever when knitting such small projects. It also has a silver thread mixed in with the cotton and that tiny bit of sparkle is pretty fun.

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I’m also really enjoying these easy to follow pattern books that always have lovely results. Especially KNIT Dishcloths by Julie Ray. It has a dozen designs based on quilt blocks. I’m enjoying it so much I’m thinking of knitting them in a yummy cuddly yarn and making a throw blanket! While I tumble that delicious thought around in my head a bit (Fun decisions like color and texture must be considered carefully and with much dreaming.) I’ll be using up this lovely cotton. Watching this beautiful stack grow and feeling really content as it does.

Finding contentment in a project is such a good thing. I am my own worst critic; always second guessing myself, always picking apart every perceived flaw. But not here, not today; today I’m just having fun and enjoying the process.

How about you? Are you entrenched in a little crafty obsession right now? What project do you pull out to fill yourself up with happy satisfaction?

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